When Daryl Mc Daniels of RUN DMC came to Rock and Roll to Hip Hop on Friday, he spoke for a full hour to a combination of my class and 20 middle school students, interspersing his reflections on music and life with lyrics from his songs. He spoke about his childhood, his upbringing ( he was a catholic school kid who loved rock and superheroes) his elevation to fame, his struggles with alcoholism and suicide, his problems with hip hop artists who don’t see themselves as part of a long tradition. It may have been the single most moving talk I have heard in my years at Fordham. There were nearly 70 people in the room and it seemed as though DMC was speaking individually to everyone there, telling them that they each had unique abilities, but that they would have to be responsible for bringing those abilities to the surface.
He shared his pain as well as his accomplishments, telling his audience that every time they overcome tragedy, it gives them the opportunity to save someone’s life. My students were mesmerized. Many are still trying to understand how and why this happened. Why we were privileged to have ‘this take place at Fordham on a Friday afternoon?
What religious people call “Grace” emanated from Daryl McDaniel and enveloped all who heard them
His fame made us pay attention; his message made us better appreciate our own power to do good in the world
No one will soon forget this day